When trainer Caspar Fownes calls on leading jockey Joao Moreira, the statistics say to take note and the Magic Man and the “King of the Valley” combine with some strong chances to open the card on Wednesday night.
Moreira rides Fownes’ trio of Great Toplight, Renaissance Art and Sweet Bean in the opening three races as the duo looks to build on an already impressive combination.
Last season Fownes re-established his status as the leading trainer at the smaller track and also formed a deadly partnership with the Brazilian rider, with the pair’s overall strike rate of 37 per cent including 13 wins at the Valley.
“When Caspar asks me to ride a horse, I know it has a strong chance,” Moreira said at trackwork on Tuesday.
“He has been very loyal to me and given me some great rides, particularly at Happy Valley. His horses go very well there, I’m not sure why, but maybe because he trials them there more often and races them often there as well.”
The best of Moreira’s chances for Fownes appears to be Great Toplight in the Class Four Ngau Tau Kok Handicap (1,200m), with the seven-year-old coming off a narrow defeat two weeks ago.
Great Toplight steps up in grade, but with 116 pounds on his back and barrier one on the C + 3 course, Moreira believes the sprinter can break through for the first time since May 2016.
“Barrier one is where I always want to be with the rail out there,” Moreira said. “Obviously he went very close last start and he should get a perfect run.”
Renaissance Art (Class Three Lam Tin Handicap) and Sweet Bean (Class Five Yau Tong Handicap) both contest 1,800m races that promise to be tactically run affairs.
Moreira was more positive about Sweet Bean’s chances, although warned, “he can miss the start, but as long as he jumps with them then I think he is a top chance”.
As far as tactics are concerned, Moreira said Fownes was a trainer that gave his jockeys confidence before heading out.
“He is flexible, he can give you some points about the horse that will help you, something about how the horse likes to be ridden, but then he doesn’t tie you to instructions,” Moreira said.
“If something unexpected happens in a race, you can do something different. He trusts in his jockeys to make it happen and gives us the freedom to ride how we think is best.”
Moreira seemed particularly bullish about the chances of Benno Yung Tin-pang’s five-year-old Torney in the Class Four Tiu Keng Leng Handicap (1,650m).
“He has a great draw and his trial was very good,” Moreira said. “He wasn’t far away at times last season and he seems to have come back a better horse.”